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Ultrastructural evidence for multiple mucous domains in frog olfactory epithelium


This study showed that the olfactory mucus is a highly structured extracellular matrix. Several olfactory epithelial glycoconjugates in the frog Rana pipiens were localized ultrastructurally using rapid-freeze, freeze-substitution and post-embedding (Lowicryl K11M) immunocytochemistry. Two of these conjugates were obtained from membrane preparations of olfactory cilia, the glycoproteins gp95 and olfactomedin. The other conjugates have a carbohydrate group which in the olfactory bulb appears to be mostly on neural cell-adhesion molecules (N-CAMs); in the olfactory epithelium this carbohydrate is present on more molecules. Localization of the latter conjugates was determined with monoclonal antibodies 9-OE and 5-OE. Ultrastructurally all antigens localized in secretory granules of apical regions of frog olfactory supporting cells and in the mucus overlying the epithelial surface, where they all had different, but partly overlapping, distributions. Monoclonal antibody 18.1, to gp95, labeled the mucus throughout, whereas poly- and monoclonal anti-olfactomedin labeled a deep mucous layer surrounding dendritic endings, proximal parts of cilia, and supporting cell microvilli. Labeling was absent in the superficial mucous layer, which contained the distal parts of the olfactory cilia. Monoclonal antibody 9-OE labeled rather distinct areas of mucus. These areas sometimes surrounded dendritic endings and olfactory cilia. Monoclonal antibody 5-OE labeled membranes of dendritic endings and cilia, and their glycocalyces, and also dendritic membranes.

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Correspondence to Bert P. M. Menco.

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Menco, B.P.M., Farbman, A.I. Ultrastructural evidence for multiple mucous domains in frog olfactory epithelium. Cell Tissue Res. 270, 47–56 (1992).

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Key words

  • Cilia
  • Microvilli
  • Secretory granules
  • Mucus
  • Freeze-substitution
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Rana pipiens (Anura)